Sunday, April 5, 2015

It’s almost time to watch Dorothy and the Scarecrow squirt oil on the Tin Man.

From the nice Jewish couple here at Howdygram headquarters to goyim everywhere ... A VERY HAPPY EASTER TO YOU AND YOURS and may you have a lifetime of chocolate eggs and plenty of fluffy rabbits! (I have no idea what I’m talking about. Is any of this weird crap in the Bible?)

It’s 8:30 Sunday morning and I’m planning a jam-packed Howdygram post today due to not writing one yesterday as I was still recovering from Thursday’s shitty mystery fever and wasted my entire Saturday whining, sleeping and trying to remember when I took my last narcotic painkiller. It was enough to make a senior citizen’s brain explode. Sam and I didn’t eat dinner until midnight — oy and holy crap! — while we watched the first third of The Wizard of Oz (1939) starring Judy Garland. We turned it off when Dorothy and the Scarecrow started squirting oil on the Tin Man.

On our agenda for today? Finish The Wizard of Oz, watch The Ten Commandments (1956) starring Charlton Heston with popcorn, and ask Sam to help me make the following brand new senior citizen recipe for lunch!

I’d like to introduce TASTY FAKE-A-RONI FOR SENIOR CITIZENS WITH LOUSY KNEES AND DIABETES, a faux Rice-A-Roni substitute when you can’t eat the real thing due all those miserable carbs. The ingredients are a no-brainer. You need a bag of Ciao Carb low-carb rice-shaped pasta, a box of your favorite Rice-A-Roni from the supermarket and a nice tub of margarine. (Crabby margarine will do if you don’t have nice margarine on hand.)
So here’s what you do. Melt a lump of margarine in your skillet and dump in half a bag of the rice-shaped pasta. Smoosh it around for a couple of minutes and let it brown. Pour in two cups of water. Remove the flavor packet from the box of Rice-A-Roni, sprinkle it into the skillet, stir, cover the pan and let everything simmer for about 25 minutes. Feel free to add a little more water if you think the pasta is too dry, maybe ¼-cup at a time. When it’s done you’ll have an awesome thing to eat THAT TASTES EXACTLY LIKE RICE-A-RONI except it’s actually healthy! (At this point you can throw away the rest of the box unless you know a needy neighbor who needs a pile of raw rice and vermicelli.)

Incidentally, please let me know if you ever try any of my senior citizen recipes at home and what you think of them, okay? Some of them are amazingly wonderful and ALL of them are easy. When I was sick a couple of days ago — the shitty mystery fever, remember? — Sam made me a pot of Easy Beef Vegetable Soup for Senior Citizens ALL BY HIMSELF. He did a great job and I had enough for four meals. Sam rocks, people!

It grieves me to report that the Lone Star State’s iconic BLUE BELL ICE CREAM IS EXPANDING ITS PRODUCT RECALL due to everything is contaminated with Listeriosis, which is making people drop dead, especially if you’re a senior citizen, a baby or you have a shitty immune system.

Blue Bell has voluntarily suspended operations at their plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending people not eat any Blue Bell ice cream from this facility.

Three weeks ago the recall began with assorted ice cream bars from the company’s plant in Brenham, Texas. Then it was expanded to include cute little poisoned cups of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla shipped in bulk to “institutional accounts” such as hospitals in 23 states. (Holy shit, right? LET’S GIVE PATHETIC SICK PEOPLE SOMETHING THAT CAN REALLY MURDER THEM!) Now, however, based on all information available, the CDC is warning consumers not to eat anything from Blue Bell’s Oklahoma facility, period.

Blue Bell products from Oklahoma can be identified by checking for the letters O, P, Q, R, S, and T following the six-digit “code date” on the bottom of the product package.
The Howdygram suggests eating Jell-O in the meantime. Lemon is the best.

Let’s discuss crappy business practices for a few minutes, okay? I’m especially pissed, irked and seriously not happy right now with a variety of businesses and organizations, which I’ll detail for you below in neatly-subtitled paragraphs. Thank you in advance for not kicking your iPad while you read this.

KIRKLAND’S. Remember the new lamp [see post] that I ordered last week from Kirkland’s website? Sam had to return it yesterday. The lamp was definitely exquisite but its functionality was a complete pain in the ass. The on/off switch is a little clicker thing on the cord located about 18 inches from the base of the lamp, which means I’d have practically dive behind my desk to turn the damn thing on and off. NO THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Too bad this irritating feature wasn’t mentioned in the product description. We could have saved ourselves a lot of aggravation.

Even worse, the lamp had been packaged in SELF-DESTRUCTING STYROFOAM that broke apart into microscopic pellets, flew all over the garage and covered Sam from head to toe. Then he had to deal with the smell of a Kirkland’s retail store, which is marinated in a multiple incompatible scents of intensely floral potpourri. Sam came home with a refund and a migraine.

BLUE CROSS / BLUE SHIELD. I called Blue Cross on Friday to find out where I should buy the CoaguChek XS meter that Dr. M wants me to use at home to test how long it takes my blood to clot. (I’m not joking. Every patient who’s on Coumadin either has to test at home or shlep to a clinic every week.) The dude who answered the phone — David — had never heard of a CoaguChek XS meter and asked me to spell it for him six times in three minutes along with my name. Then he asked what it’s used for (INR blood testing), why do I want one (I’m a collector), have I ever seen one (frequently, at my doctor’s office), do I know the medical code so he can look it up (you’re joking right?), can he call my doctor for more information (sure, why not), what’s her phone number (write this down, David) and can he put me on hold for a while (I’ll give you 10 minutes). He came back less informed than when we started and asked if I’d let him escalate this to his “research department.” I said yes and hung up. I will never hear from him again.

WAL-MART. I placed a pair of substantial web orders on March 30 about an hour apart. The first one, which included Atkins nutrition bars, Glucerna shakes for old people with diabetes, Bounty paper towels, potato chips and several boxes of Velveeta cheese sauce in squeezy packets (stop laughing). I never received a confirmation email when I placed the order and didn’t receive a follow-up when it shipped; the box just magically showed up on our doorstep three days later. As for that second order, which included 10 bottles of body wash in various fragrances, Dove deodorant and Atkins Daybreak low-carb shakes in exotic flavors like strawberry-banana and milk chocolate, I never got a confirmation email for that one, either, and it also didn’t appear online in my order history, which I discovered when that first box arrived without warning and I decided to find out where the other one ended up. THERE WAS NO RECORD OF IT even though the charge had already appeared on our MasterCard as “pending.” So I call Wal-Mart’s customer service department and a very talkative young man proceeds to dump on me about the company’s website problems. For instance, I’m not the first customer to call with this complaint, this has been going on all week, everything is really fucked up over there, ecommerce isn’t working right, this is driving everybody crazy, and so forth. He removed the pending charge from our credit card and told me I should reorder.

Wal-Mart needs to train this guy immediately. He should NEVER have unloaded about the company’s website issues and it would have been really nice if he’d volunteered to re-enter the order for me over the phone and not put me through the hassle. (I guess I shouldn’t expect Nordstrom service from a minimum-wage phone clerk ... but I keep hoping.)

eBAY. Oy, people, eBay is such a pain in the ass! That’s where I wound up last night after I realized I would never hear back from the dimwit at Blue Cross about my CoaguChek XS meter because eBay has amazing prices. I found one with a “buy it now” price of $679.95 (full retail is $1,495 according to medical supply websites) and moved it to my shopping cart to continue browsing. Then I spot an auction with 29 minutes left. I typically HATE the goddamn auction process but decide to give it a shot because it’s ending in less than half an hour, it’s late at night, the high bid so far is only $540 and there’s nobody around to bid against me. I enter a bid of $550 and watch the clock run down until I win the auction. GLORIOSKI! I snagged a complete CoaguChek XS kit for only $550!
I go straight to my shopping cart to delete the first one and pay for the cheap one and discover that eBay apparently expects me to BUY THEM BOTH. What the fuck?! I call their customer service desk (I think it’s easier to get through to the White House) and a pleasant lady with an unrecognizable accent walks me through all the steps required to beg the seller of the first meter to let me off the hook and not sue me. Literally, I’m expected to GROVEL. Customer service sent a whiny grovelly email and I had to send a whiny grovelly email of my own a few minutes later, begging the seller to feel sorry for an ignoramus senior citizen on Social Security.

It’s clear that all of eBay’s rules and procedures are designed to help SELLERS, not buyers. They’re the DIRECT OPPOSITE of Amazon. In my favor? I contacted customer service about this issue immediately after it happened, but I’m still furious that they put me in this position and couldn’t explain how or why placing an item in my cart turned into a MANDATORY SALE. I had four wheelchairs in my cart for more than a month and nobody expected me to buy ANY of them! I’m supposed to hear back from the seller by tomorrow. Stay tuned. (Maybe I’ll ship him some Blue Bell ice cream in the meantime.)

This might be the longest Howdygram post I’ve ever written. I think my leg just fell asleep and it’s definitely time for lunch. Thank you for reading this!

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